Du Maurier’s Rook
Fowey Rook With A Book story started back in 2015 we (Thrussells) were contacted by the then Micheal Redmond chairman of the Fowey Chamber of Commerce, he explained to us the chamber were seeking a local sculptor to work with them in creating a new sculpture/s for the town.
The chamber felt the town needed to start appealing to the art scene and they needed to encourage more public art and artists to visit, exhibit and inspire the town. What they needed was a statement piece for launching a new movement in the town.
Following a meeting with the chairman we put together a collection of concept ideas to help the chamber to refine an idea.. a few ideas were shortlisted and following our second meeting we were asked if we could create a piece to display to give the local people a taster of what could be created.. we agreed we would make a piece on loan to the town for a period of two years to help enhance the art seen in Fowey. But as this piece was not a direct commission but a loaned sculpture the creation of the piece would happen over a period of time between other projects we had in the studio.
The concept idea we agreed to work on was a large Rook sculpture commemorating the famous story written by Daphne Du Maurier. Du Maurier apparently lived for a short time near the Rookery and was fascinated by the birds.. which inspired her book. We felt a giant Rook was very appropriate for a public sculpture as the town still has a Rookery and a bird symbolises so many things including a guardian for the town.
Two years past and the sculpture of a bird emerged slowly in our studio.. starting with a cross section, a beak, a few feathers here and there..
Summer 2017 following a busy spring we finally had a few months to dedicate to the giant bird sat in the corner of our workshop. We contacted Michael Redmond and told him the bird will be arriving soon!
With regards to installation we originally agreed with the Harbour Commission to install a large metal birds sculpture on a gantry which leads out to the a jetty at the centre of the town.
Just before completing the bird we finalised the bird as a ‘Rook’ rather than a Crow as the Rook is more in keeping with what Du Maurier would have seen at the Rookery.
We had preview meeting at our studio for the chairman Micheal Redmond, and two representatives from the Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature.
The group that visited were blown away with what had been created and we were delighted with the response.
For a start the Rook wasn’t just a large bird but a GIANT Rook sculpture.. we might have slightly got carried away and created a sculpture which not only was far too large to be installed on the harbour gantry but needed about four people to lift her!
We agreed to install the sculpture early 2018 in time for the spring Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature.
Spring 2018 arrived and the day which we had arranged to install the sculpture.. Gary’s daughter (Thomas’ sister) gave birth to her second child name Isla and this is where the name Isla came from for the ‘Rook With A Book’ sculpture.
A week before installation the Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature help to promote the new sculpture as part of publicity for the festival. They sent out a press release and contacted various newspapers.
BBC Radio Cornwall did a feature about the new sculpture arriving in Fowey. BBC Spotlight News visited us to interview us and put together a feature for the unveiling day. The Cornish Guardian, Western Morning News and St Austell Voice all published the press release a week before unveiling.
On the Unveiling day we arrived in Fowey to find a large crowd gathering and within 20 minutes the crowd doubled. Two News crews turned up and various newspapers journalists were there too. We were incredibly surprised with the turnout and interest the town and Cornwall took in this news sculpture.
The towns Mayor spoke a few words with thanks and talked about the importance of supporting the arts and local businesses in the town. Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature organiser spoke a few words promoting the up and coming festival and the links with Du Maurier with the town and how important this is for the festival.
Finally Ian McCarthy (EMMY and BAFTA award-winning wildlife photographer that lives in the town) were introduced to us and Kit Browning (Daphne Du Maurier’s son).
Kit Browning said a few words and revealed the name of the piece and officially unveiled it to the town with a tug of the sheet. Link to video and news article >here< Since the unveiling the sculpture has been seen by hundreds of people that have been talking about it posting images and generally enjoying the public sculpture. We hope people are inspired to visit Fowey and learn more about the great writer that is Daphne Du Maurier. Isla is positioned in a place where in the background you can see Du Maurier’s old house ‘Ferryside’ and this is where her son still lives. We are working with Ian McCarthy to create an official postcard with all profits going to the Wildlife Trust. Also we have developed a replica miniature statue of Isla if people would like to have one for their sideboard. These have already proven to be very popular. Other artists have already featured the ‘Rook With A Book’ in their work.. a French illustrator Miki De Goodaboom has featured Isla in one of her recent illustrations. Another person had a birthday cake created in 3D of the sculpture. Get your own Rook With A Book statue here -> thrussells.com/shop
We are just so pleased with the support and interest in this piece. It’s great to see people enjoy something that we have created and hope this continues. In 2020 the ‘Rook With A Book’ will be put up for a public auction.. that’s if we can pry the Rook from the town’s people. ⠀
Supporting Info Links:
Places to find the miniature Rook statues:
- Waterstones – Truro bookshop
- Lost In Books – Lostwithial bookshop
- Jamaica Inn – Bodmin Moor museum
- Fowey River Gallery – Fowey gallery